If you have never heard about Clipping indicators in Lightroom, you are at the right place then. After I learned what they are and how to use them, it changed my complete editing workflow.
Clipping indicators serve to keep a better control over your editing process, whichwill become much more professional with higher quality outcome.
In this article, I will explain to you what Clipping Indicators are, why they are important and how to use them. Some people know them also as a J-trick, and I will explain it too in this article.
What Clipping indicators are, why they are important
Clipping appears when Lightroom detects a lack of data in a specific area of your image.
In other words, clipping (blue or red overlay) appears in the image, in case you go over the limits with editing, and white parts of an image become too bright (red overlay) and black parts become too dark (blue overlay). (see the image example below:)
What red or blue overlays say, is that those areas lost the data – they do not have any detail or texture. Simply said, they are pure white or pure black. Unless we are aiming to achieve this, we do not want to lose the data from the image.
How to activate them in Lightroom
You can activate Clipping indicators by pressing J on your keyboard or from the top panel – VIEW – Show Clipping (see the image below)
You can understand if the Clipping Indicators are active from the histogram. There are two triangles at the top of the histogram. If they are grey, the clipping indicators are turned off. (The first image). If the triangles are white, clipping is turned on. (the second image).
Then, while moving sliders on the right-hand panel – such as exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites or black, blue or red overlay will appear in some areas of an image become or too bright (pure whites) or too dark (pure blacks). This tells you, that you’ve gone to the extreme and those parts of the image have lost their data. Such an area doesn’t have any texture. It’s just pure white or pure black area. As a result of this, you will affect the quality of the final image.
When clipping indicators are not active, you can adjust the sliders without being warned to go over the limit.
On the images below, you can see the example of how clipping indicators detect the lack of the data of the image. The first image shows we have lost the data in the blue area, the second image shows that we have gone to the extremes and these red areas are pure whites.
How to bring back lost data in an image
You can bring lost details back by adjusting sliders until you find the best solution/combination. The most effective can be adjusting highlights, whites or black. However, sometimes you can also solve it by adjusting texture, clarity, or contrast. You need to find the best solution for you, to keep your desired look of an image but not going to the extreme of losing the data of an image.
J-Trick – what is it and how to use it
Some people use the Clipping Indicators as so-called J-trick. What is it and how you can use it?
Press keyboard key J, or activate the Clipping Indicators from the tool panel (View – Show Clipping). Then, you start your editing process by adjusting whites and blacks first. You can increase the whites until you see the first spots that the clipping indicators show as red areas. The same with black, you can lower blacks until the point when blue overlays start appearing. (see the image below)
From that point, you can adjust the other settings, such as temperature, exposure, contrast, and all the rest. I like continue with my clipping indicators turned on, as it helps me to control the editing and do not go to the extremes.
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I will be so happy if you let me know on instagram or here in comments how you liked this blog post and how useful it was for you! I hope these hints&tips will help you too and make your editing more enjoyable!
If you want to know more about editing, you can join our food photography challenge this month, which is focusing on the editing. You will find more information on this link, or feel free to write me in the comment below or via instagram.
I have already posted a few other articles about editing in Lightroom. If you wish to work faster and be more effective, check these 14 Lightroom Shortcuts you should definitely know about.
Otherwise, if you wish to improve your skills at using the Brush tool, read this blog post.
And remember, feel free to ask me anything! I am here for you to help you on your journey to your amazing food photography future. Also, if you wish to learn some other things about Lightroom, let me know!